I recently read Retirement Heaven or Hell: 9 Principles for Designing Your Ideal Post-Career Lifestyle by Mike Drak, Susan Williams and Rob Morrison.
Mike and his co-authors demonstrate how retirement is all about your lifestyle choices. And like all choices in life, they are based on our preconceptions and expectations of that next phase of life. The sub-title points the way. It’s just like when you were a teenager choosing what to study or what job to go for.
So first, Mike argues that our current picture of retirement is outdated. He shows that many preconceived ideas about retirement will lead you to make choices that result in a downward spiral. Nobody has a vision of a life of retirement hell. Especially not one pasted over with stereotyped poses and false smiles, drinks in hand, watching the sunset from their cruise liner. Where can we find a better model?
Your vision: it’s not just about finance
The conventional model centres retirement advice around finance. That’s important and can be a very stressful topic. But Mike points out that we each need a much wider, new vision. His key point is that you need to take stock not only of finance but of your personality and every other aspect of your life. Mike goes on to highlight nine areas to look at to create your vision of retirement heaven. These are health, finances and jobs, exercise, diet, social connections, spirituality, attitudes, values and our sense of purpose. As he says, we need to balance our lives in each of these areas. But how?
Personalised for you
For me, the best part of the book is that you feel it’s written for you personally. The authors take your hand and lead you to really workable solutions. At the end of each chapter, there are deep-diving questions to ask yourself. They are penetrating but supremely practical. They raise issues that really matter to you and drive you back into the text. Questioning yourself in this way means you see better how to answer your own questions.
Of course, the book targets those who are soon to retire or have retired into a less than satisfactory retirement. But, to my mind, these questions could form part of a lifestyle study course for any adult to take at any age. They guide you into reaching decisions which will yield the most happiness, joy and purpose for you.
With apt quotes and engaging stories of what works, this book is easy to read. But it doesn’t shirk difficult topics. Its wry, personal examples show you how hard it is for anyone to make the right choices. After all, you never know when you or your family might be sideswiped by some awful accident or illness.
All the more reason for you to start wringing the most fun and satisfaction from life here and now; not only in some heavenly future.
Aiming for Heaven in Retirement
Summing up, this is the book to help you reach your very own retirement heaven starting today. It’s a practical handbook and a fantastic guide to organising your life. It’s exactly what we all need to optimise our lives for fun, adventure and satisfaction. It’s your manual for the here and now and for a great future as you age.